The landmark Roe vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, blindsided Christianity. Confused Christians jumped into foxholes and hid from the wicked aftermath of the decision.
Rev. Jerry Falwell, the pastor of the largest independent Baptist church in America and the founder of Liberty University, realized Roe vs. Wade undermined the moral fabric of America. He had long held the belief that politics and Christianity should not be mixed and had often stated, “Preachers are not called to be politicians, but soul winners.”
But two things eventually changed his mind.
First, Falwell was influenced by the writings of Francis Schaeffer, who blamed society’s downfall on secular humanism. Schaeffer urged Christians, especially pastors, to become political activists, stating, “Christians had a moral duty to step into political arenas to change nations…”
Second, Falwell studied the success of the Civil Rights movement. He noted how America was forever changed because Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other leaders forced governments to grant equal rights to all Americans, not just whites.
So, in 1976, Rev. Falwell held “I Love America” rallies across America. Large crowds gathered to hear him preach against the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, the family breakdown, and communism.
These rallies catapulted Falwell into the forefront of the Christian political movement.
In 1979, conservative leaders and Republican operatives convinced Rev. Falwell to co-found, along with Paul Weyrich, the Moral Majority. Weyrich was the founder of the Heritage Foundation and also coined the term − moral majority. It was Weyrich’s knowledge of grassroots politics, which helped set up Moral Majority chapters in states, especially the South.
Rev. Falwell barnstormed America during the 1980 presidential campaign giving speeches, holding seminars, and preaching sermons in every major city. President Ronald Reagan won the election and became America’s 40th president. Many credited Moral Majority and Falwell’s preaching for the victory.
The popularity of Moral Majority lessened in the late 1980’s and was disbanded in 1989.
I certainly believe Rev. Jerry Falwell was a godly man who had good intentions, but I believe America is still burdened by his and other leaders’ decisions during the 1970’s. We will look at what I consider to be their mistakes in future articles.
(Continued in Part 4…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2014, may be seen here.)